Russia says new British carrier 'convenient target'


Moscow (AFP)

Russia on Thursday mocked Britain's brand new HMS Elizabeth II aircraft carrier, saying it was above all a "convenient target" for Moscow's forces.

The Russian defence ministry described as "arrogant" comments by British defence minister Michael Fallon, who labelled Russia's only aircraft carrier the Admiral Kuznetsov as "dilapidated" and said Moscow would look at the UK's new vessel "with a little bit of envy".

Fallon's comments "prove a clear lack of naval knowledge," ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

"Unlike the Admiral Kuznetsov, which is equipped with anti-aircraft and anti-submarine missiles and especially Granit missiles to hit ships, the British aircraft carrier is nothing but a big, convenient target in the sea," he added.

"With this in mind, it is in the interest of the British Royal Navy not to show off the 'beauty' of its aircraft carrier in open waters any closer than from several hundred miles."

HMS Queen Elizabeth, a 280-metre (919-foot), 65,000-tonne vessel, is the largest and most powerful ship ever built for the Royal Navy and set off for its first sea trial on Monday.

It cost £3.0 billion (3.4 billion euros, $3.8 billion) to build.

The Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov was involved in Moscow's air campaign in support of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria but suffered several high-profile mishaps.

The ship is now back in Russia and set to undergo costly refurbishments at a port in the northern city of Murmansk.

Relations between former Cold War foes Russia and Britain have slumped to their lowest point in decades over the Ukraine conflict.